Hard to believe the Toyota Prius is 15 years old as a brand. After only a few tweaks in design over the years, Toyota is finally letting loose some new form factors of the proven technology. They just announced the launch of the Model C, a Yaris-sized eco rocket, will happen at the Tokyo Motor Show. While Toyota has been head and shoulders above the pack with the gas sipping Prius, it’s amazing that it took so long to get a compact car out there with the killer hybrid drive-train. The wait may have been worth it, as this little four-door is going to get more than 51 miles-per gallon in town. That’s the best non-electric number in the industry, just shaving the performance of the standard Prius, and sure to reignite the fire for younger and urban car buyers.
The body design is less Yaris and more squashed Prius elder (by 18 inches), clearly in an attempt to maintain the Prius aura. Toyota shied away from the concept body style which was well received for the more quaint original lifted back. Underneath the hood is where the real fun begins, as Toyota squeezed a 1.5 liter engine and electric motor into the shorted front end. With a lower center of gravity and lighter weight the Prius C might feel a bit sportier than the standard Prius as well.
While we will have to wait to see how folks respond to the handling, the lower price point should be enough to tip many into making this their next lower impact ride. The Model C goes on sale in Japan in December and will roll out in the States early next year, although word is it will not be available in Europe.